I know, I know, you've heard life is a dance. Now I'm saying it isn't? (click to tweet)
And JUST when you were getting the whole "two steps forward, one step back" thing?
The shaman in me understands your confusion. At the shamanic level, which is to say the level of our soul story being played out in human time, life is a dance--hopefully a beautiful, profound and compelling one. Our stories are a series of ups and downs, back and fourths, right and lefts that we can only hope is going somewhere.
That's the soul-having-a-human-experience, and done beautifully, the dance is a whole lot of... well, everything!
But that's not the only level of understanding there is. (Perhaps you knew this... SMILING!)
For the mystic in me, there is a progressive destination that has no actual backwards movement. To be honest, it's part of what makes being a shaman-mystic so darned challenging at times. Being fully human, having a (great!) story, helping others learn how to have great stories... AND at the same time learning to drop the story, to live outside of the good-bad-left-right. It could make anyone go a little crazy. (Which is part of what has to happen. But that's another blog post.)
Before you write me off as not really knowing up from down, let me explain.
I've counseled thousands of people on the journey of life through shamanic work, rainmaker consulting, a trip, a workshop... or just an encounter at the coffee shop. I have written books about the journey and created apprenticeships for others to learn what I've learned about it. Through all of this, just like mythologist Joseph Campbell, I have come to one conclusion: It's all one story.
As unique as every fingerprint is, the finger is a finger and the hand is a hand.
In the same way, there are common signposts on the soul's evolution even as it plays out in a wide range of unique situations. There are even maps to these sign posts, if you know where to look... Alchemy, Taoism, The Hero's Journey, The Heroine's Journey. It's all there.
Yes, we are all on a trajectory towards the same ending. Take a workshop or don't, the lessons show up. Take a leap or get shoved, you're going to fly. Like Julia Roberts says to Richard Gere in Pretty Woman (great movie) you've set yourself up with a sure thing.
And everyone is on this trajectory, know it or not. There is not a caterpillar alive that is not designed to become a butterfly. Not a seed of corn that isn't designed to become a stalk. The conditions may thwart it, for a time, but there isn't anything that will become something other than what it was intended to become.
So while I won't be so full of hubris to think I know what we will all become, I will say from experience that everyone I have ever met seems to be heading there.
Fast or slow, this lifetime or the next (if you are into that), it's all the same game. And in the end, you win. (click to tweet)
Let me repeat that: In. The. End. You. Win.
So why all the wildly subtle and grossly gross nuances that make us crazy on the way? I can't say I know that for sure either. But I have a few ideas.
Imagine that on our way to winning at the game of life, we are on an amusement park ride, which is more like a conveyer belt. Strap in, turn it on, off it goes until you win. Like the two minute and six second long roller coaster ride, you wait a long or short time to get on (depending on conditions), then get in, then take all the curves everyone else takes until the steel machine comes to a stop and you are done. Ride over.
(Okay, the ride up front is different from the ride in the back, but really, is it THAT different?)
You might think you are getting ahead, getting in line early, getting the best seat, preferably NOT next to a shrill screamer or someone who is likely to throw up. But at the end of the day, the ride is the ride. Everyone starts, everyone rides, everyone is delighted or afraid or both, and everyone has their own experience. But everyone also pulls in the gate at the allotted two minutes and six seconds.
The point is, for all of life's false starts and jockeying for position and darling side roads and colossal mistakes and even untimely deaths, life is pretty much the same deal for everyone, and everyone is going to have the same ride.
You think you are special, and you are (especially to that cutie sitting next to you), but you are not THAT special (i.e. different). Not really.
To the smaller self and our "look at me" desires, this is very bad news. We bank on the special. It is what makes it all... mean something. And life is just to damned hard not to at-least-for-god's-sake mean something.
But to the mystic, this is very good news. The mystic isn't interested in being special. She wants to find the existential prize in the crackerjack box, whatever it is. In other words, she wants to get where the ride is going. Though the ride is no different for her than anyone else, the culmination point pulls her from deep within.
(NOTE: For those of you ahead-of-the-story fancy pants who want to insist that for the mystic there is no winning, there is nowhere to go, and I have it all wrong and have missed the mystical boat altogether--hold on. The mystic in me knows all about that. But the "nowhere" at the end of the journey is different from the "nowhere" at the beginning, because the mystic herself is different. And that is the "winning" she is after.)
So if life is not a dance with pitiful pitfalls and potentially dangerous detours... if it's a roller coaster moving us toward a greater transformation no matter how it looks... and if the ride is on some level just two minutes six seconds long for each and every one because that is how it was designed... what's a girl or guy to do, just sit and wait?
You're probably going to shoot me here, but I suggest you dance. Not because the never-ending dance is all there is, but because it's the one choice you've got.
Key word here: Choice.
Remember when I talked about how on the roller coaster ride everyone is delighted and afraid and even if it is all the same, everyone has their own experience? It's true. It's also true that you're going to go left and right and up and down and around and around and around again. So given the pre-programed givens, why not choose a STYLE of experience that you actually can throw yourself into with gusto? Why not dance--whatever dancing means to you?
Do you like getting ahead, reading the end of the book first, going back for seconds even if it isn't good for you? Have at it.
Like going slow, savoring each moment? Waltz on.
Prefer extremes over great moderation or vice versa? Your choice.
So that is my take: You are going to get there. Done deal. No worries. And I am going to get there. And everyone who was once the seed of his father's loins will get there. So why not relax a bit?
Why not dance on your way (YOUR way) toward the unfolding of your inevitably gorgeous self in fully realized potential? (click to tweet)
See you when we get there...